Effectiveness of I’m Learning for achieving quality learning environments

Impact and implications from three country pilots





international development, SDGs, global governance, school governance, quality education


From 2013 to 2017, Save the Children Norway tested the hypothesis that a global framework could be used to empower locally driven solutions within the education sector. It did so by galvanizing support and aligning stakeholders to common goals articulated through the Quality Learning Environment Framework but allowing each community context to determine its own path for achieving those goals. This article explores the effectiveness and impact of these projects across the three pilot countries of Cambodia, Uganda, and Zimbabwe as defined by the original project goals, outcomes, and objectives. Reflecting on both qualitative and quantitative data gathered throughout the life of the project, the article speaks to project impact and achievements as well as operational findings including commonalities and differences between the three pilot projects and keys to success. It outlines lessons learned across the programming sites and in doing so it explores the role of a large International Non-Governmental Organization as a catalyst for change. Finally, it discusses the rigorous research and reporting framework driven by funders and development agencies, the rigidity of which struggled to capture the emergent nature of locally driven solutions.


Download data is not yet available.


Metrics Loading ...


Christensen, S. D. (2016, December 6-8). Save the Children’s quality learning environment framework [PowerPoint presentation]. Save the Children’s Inclusive Education Learning Event, Bangkok, Thailand. https://resourcecentre.savethechildren.net/node/10305/pdf/qle_ppt_sine_christensen_iele_bangkok_dec._2016.pdf.

Dearing, E., Kreider, H., Simpkins, S., & Weiss, H. (2006). Family involvement in school and low-income children’s literacy: longitudinal associations between and within families. Journal of Educational Psychology, 98(4), 653– 664. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-0663.98.4.653

Education Commission (2016). The Learning Generation: Investing in education for a changing world. The International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity. https://report.educationcommission.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Learning_Generation_Full_Report.pdf

Hang, P., Khorn, D., Prigent, S., & Yuth, K. (2017). “I’m Learning!!” pilot in Cambodian Primary Schools (2013-2017): Community-based monitoring and connection to educational praxis. Kampuchean Action for Primary Education. https://resourcecentre.savethechildren.net/node/13432/pdf/im_learning_longitudinal_reserach_report_final_cambodia_2018.pdf.

Hapanyengwi, O., Chataika, T., & Dirwai, C. (2018). Quality of education: Interrelationships between learning environments and learning outcomes and child development in basic education in Zimbabwe. University of Zimbabwe. https://resourcecentre.savethechildren.net/node/13434/pdf/im_learning_longitudinal_research_report_final_zimbabwe_2018_0.pdf.

Hattie, J. (1999). Influences on Student Learning. Transcript of inaugural lecture to the University of Auckland. Research Gate. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/237248564_Influences_on_Student_Learning

Heijinen-Maathuis, E., & Christensen, S. D. (2016). Save the Children’s Quality Learning Environment (QLE) framework: What have we learned and how will this inform our future work. Save the Children.

Maranto, R. (2017). The quality learning framework. Save the Children International. https://resourcecentre.savethechildren.net/node/12460/pdf/00_quality_learning_framework_september_2017.pdf

Marzano, R., Waters, T., & McNulty, B. (2005). School leadership that works: from research to results. Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Nielsen, H. D. (2006). From schooling access to learning outcomes: An unfinished agenda. An evaluation of World Bank support to primary education. World Bank. https://doi.org/10.1596/978-0-8213-6792-6

Ofoyuru, D. T., & Abola, B. (2017). "I’m Learning!" research report: Longitudinal study on learning environments, and learning outcomes and child development in Gulu district. Gulu University.

Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) (2018). Global Multidimensional Poverty Index 2018: The Most Detailed Picture to Date of the World’s Poorest People [Report]. OPHI, University of Oxford.

Pawson, R., & Tilley, N. (2004). Realist evaluation. British Cabinet Office. http://www.communitymatters.com.au/RE_chapter.pdf

Ryall, C., & Zook, L. (2017). I’m Learning! cost analysis: Cambodia [Internal report]. Save the Children.

Ryall, C., & Zook, L. (2021). I’m Learning! intervention methodology for quality learning environments in developing country contexts, Nordic Journal for Comparative and International Education, 5(3).

UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) (2017). More than one-half of children and adolescents are not learning worldwide (Report No. UIS/FS/2017/ED/46) http://uis.unesco.org/sites/default/files/documents/fs46-more-than-half-children-not-learning-en-2017.pdf

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) (2004). Education for All: The quality imperative. UNESCO. https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000137333

University of Oslo (2018). “I’m Learning!” longitudinal study: a synthesis report. Department of Education, University of Oslo.




How to Cite

Zook, L., & Ryall, C. (2021). Effectiveness of I’m Learning for achieving quality learning environments: Impact and implications from three country pilots. Nordic Journal of Comparative and International Education (NJCIE), 5(3), 74–95. https://doi.org/10.7577/njcie.4054